CCP Recovers Rs 5 M Penalty from Pakistan Newspapers Society

CCP Recovers Rs 5 M Penalty from Pakistan Newspapers Society

To uphold fair competition, the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has successfully recovered a Rs 5 million penalty from the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS).

This recovery stems from a long-standing issue involving allegations of anti-competitive practices by APNS, which led to the enforcement of a penalty initially imposed by the CCP.

The case began when the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) lodged a complaint with the CCP, alleging that the regulations and circulars formulated by APNS violated Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2010. This section pertains to prohibitions against anti-competitive agreements, including those that restrict trade or limit market access.

Following a thorough investigation, the CCP’s enquiry established that APNS had indeed been imposing restrictive trading conditions. Specific rules, regulations, and circulars enforced by APNS were found to contravene the Competition Act. Consequently, on June 6, 2018, the CCP issued an order affirming that APNS had engaged in anti-competitive activities. These activities included applying unfair trading conditions and imposing dissimilar conditions on equivalent transactions with other trading parties through its regulatory framework.

Despite recognizing APNS’s cooperative and compliance-oriented approach, the CCP imposed a penalty of Rs 10 million. This decision also invalidated the problematic circulars, rules, and regulations, directing APNS to draft new ones and seek exemption from the CCP under Section 5 of the Competition Act. The order further stipulated that non-compliance would result in an additional penalty of Rs 25 million and a daily fine of Rs 100,000.

APNS subsequently appealed the CCP’s decision before the Competition Appellate Tribunal (CAT). After a detailed hearing, the Tribunal partially upheld the appeal, reducing the penalty to Rs 5 million. The CAT also directed APNS to submit its amended circulars, rules, and regulations to the CCP within one month. Moreover, the Tribunal ruled that the additional penalty of Rs 25 million and the daily fine would not be applicable if the CCP endorsed the amended rules and regulations within 60 days.

The recent recovery of the Rs 5 million penalty marks a pivotal moment in the CCP’s ongoing efforts to enforce fair competition laws in Pakistan. It underscores the regulatory body’s commitment to addressing anti-competitive practices and ensuring a level playing field in the market. The resolution of this case not only penalizes past infractions but also sets a precedent for future compliance, promoting a healthier competitive environment in the country’s newspaper industry.